The calendar tells me it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow – I wouldn’t believe it, but it tends to be righter than me – which requires parents to produce heart-shaped foods for their offspring. If this sounds like you, here’s a tip: you can cut soft pitas with scissors into hearts to make heart shaped pizzas.
In other news, my mother in law is back home from the hospital, her broken right arm in a sling. (She’s OK with me sharing this news, and in fact would love for me to share my iphone photos of her epic purply-black bruise with friends far and wide, but that’s not exactly food blog fodder.) She’s right-handed, of course, which means learning to do everything with her left, including eating, and there won’t be much cooking for awhile. So my dinnertime decision making has come to factor in what can do double duty as future meals for her, too.
I roasted a pork loin for dinner one night, then sliced the remainder and divvied it between 6 shallow rectangular dishes that have been in my basement for years, without much practical purpose. (I’m sure there are plenty of small lidded baking dishes out there, but I don’t want her to struggle with a sealed lid – plastic wrap is far easier to remove.) I filled the gap with some leftover cooked rice and frozen mixed vegetables, which I must note are her favourite – especially this “California” blend of broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. (She was over the moon about the hospital food, and wondered what all the negative fuss was about.) I added the requisite TV dinner gravy and a pat of butter on the rice/veggies, covered and froze them, and the entire process of assembling 6 meals took 10 minutes.
On the night I made chicken and sausages for dinner, I tucked a few extra thighs in a baking dish generally reserved for baked artichoke dip, alongside a few halved potatoes, drizzled the lot with olive oil, added thyme, salt and pepper and baked it alongside. A second batch of one-pot mac & cheese was doled out into ramekins – $1 for 2 at Dollarama – to freeze. Ditto tortellini doused in bottled tomato sauce, then dumped into a casserole dish and a couple individual baking dishes, scattered with cheese, then baked – the big one for us, small ones for her.
There was a curry made for a story with sauteed onions, red pepper, ginger, garlic, a big spoonful of curry sauce, a can of chickpeas, a bit of leftover roasted chicken, a glug of salsa, a big handful of chopped fresh spinach and another of cilantro and a can of coconut milk, with a big pinch of salt, simmered down until thick. It was so good we ate the whole thing by the spoonful, standing at the stove. It would have made a great freeze-ahead meal, if not a little exotic for this particular patient.
Of course you don’t need someone to break their arm to do this; if your leftovers are often left to languish in the fridge, freezing them in individual servings to bake or nuke later seems to make them somehow intentional – and more palatable to anti-leftoverites.